Taishou Otome Fairytale is a historical Japanese slice-of-life romance with a couple that end up being super adorable even if initially the male lead is a little off-putting due to his excessive negativity. With lots of pink and flowers, two characters who genuinely reflect on their words and actions, and a support cast that serve their roles well enough, what you have is a perfectly adequate anime and if you are in the mood for excessively sweet this one will definitely hit the spot.
You do however have to go into it accepting that it is set in a different age as the romance starts when the female lead, Yuzuki, is essentially bought as a bride for a crippled child of a wealthy family so that they don’t have to take care of him. Throw in that Yuzuki is your very typical happy to do house work Japanese girl that anime so likes to depict and some viewers may not connect.
If you are happy to accept that set-up though you can sit down in front of your TV or laptop or whatever you watch on and just enjoy the sweet nothingness as it rolls over you.
Taishou Otome Fairytale isn’t overly remarkable but it is perfectly relaxing viewing.
At twelve episodes this one isn’t going for a deep dive and stays fairly true to its slice of life genre label. Most episodes focus on Tamahiko, the boy who lost the use of his right hand in an accident that killed his mother, and Yuzuki, the girl sent to be his bride, and their daily lives in their home in the mountains. At first Tamahiko is mired in his own depression, apparently relishing in wallowing in his own pathetic existence, to the point where you genuinely want to slap him. Fortunately, Yuzuki manages to kill him with kindness until he has no choice but to accept life isn’t all just misery and pain.
It isn’t as though Taishou Otome Fairytale haven’t made him sympathetic. Losing his mother and being crippled all in one accident was probably bad enough. Having a father who then calls you worthless and sends you away is definitely worse. That same father later telling you to just act as if you died because that would be better for the family… well now we’re in the territory of just truly bad anime parents and the only small positive we’re pulling out of this is that because Tamahiko’s father sent him away we fortunately don’t have to listen to his father very much at all during the anime.
While the father’s actions and choices most definitely established the situation in both isolating his son and then sending Yuzuki to be with him, the father himself only appears very briefly in a handful of episodes.
Taishou Otome Fairytale chooses instead to focus on Tamahiko opening up to his sister, the children in the village where he’s now living, eventually classmates as he returns to school, and of course, Yuzuki.
It’s a wise choice because some relationships can’t be mended and quite clearly Tamahiko’s father is a lost cause. Rather than dwell on that, the story chooses to have Tamahiko connecting with so many others, something that final episode really emphasises when all those others gather.
Meanwhile, Yuzuki is very much the ‘I choose to smile’ kind of girl who happily gets on with chores, who patiently brings food to Tamahiko even when he’s shut himself away, who doesn’t hold a grudge against the girl in town who deliberately causes a misunderstanding between her and Tamahiko. Yuzuki is very sweet and cute, and her blushing face is adorable. What manages to keep her from being a forgettable cloud of fluffy sweetness is that Taishou Otome Fairytale gave her a backbone.
Yuzuki knows when she needs to make a stand and when to hold firm. She’ll speak her mind if she needs to but when it isn’t that important hold her tongue.
The rest of the support cast all serve various narrative and character purposes. Tamahiko’s younger sister arrives for a couple of episodes and shakes up the daily routine of Tamahiko and Yuzuki as well as inspiring Tamahiko to try to go back to school. The village girl causes strife between Tamahiko and Yuzuki forcing the two to be a bit more honest about how they feel toward one another and also opening up the pathway for Tamahiko to end up tutoring the local village children and giving him a connection with the community. The friend he makes at school and his sister show how far Tamahiko has grown as he reaches out to help his friend.
While they all work well enough, Taishou Otome Fairytale hasn’t spent a lot of time fleshing these characters out. And largely after their primary role is done they tend to slip away until they are needed again. On the bright side this means the focus stays on Yuzuki and Tamahiko for the majority of the run time but it also doesn’t help the world they live in feel very real.
The final arc of Taishou Otome Fairytale involves a natural disaster and I will admit it was pretty emotional and I definitely found it rewarding to watch. I wasn’t expecting something that had been pleasant but not overly heavy to suddenly feel so real but the final two episodes of Taishou Otome Fairytale really stepped up a notch.
Visually this anime is pretty ordinary looking most of the time though there are some lovely scenery shots. Also, I really liked a lot of the clothing because of the era in which the story is set. The music also is kind of ordinary, though quite a few of the characters sing throughout the series and most of them sound like normal people singing.
Overall, Taishou Otome Fairytale isn’t my usual kind of anime but I must say for a cute romance it hit the spot during the season and I enjoyed my time with it. Sure there are stronger anime romances out there but if you are looking for something new this one is worth trying.
Images from: Taishou Otome Fairytale. Dir. J Hatori. SynergySP. 2021
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